The Semi Stiff Link - Dave Levy

The hinged stiff-link has got to be one of the most famous and commonly used rigs of all time, especially where pop-up rigs are concerned. There can be no denying how effective the rig is and at times it can be almost impossible to resist using it.

I have used them quite a lot and they certainly have a place in my fishing. The results I have had are more than good enough for me to be satisfied with. The hooked to landed ratio is often something that gets over looked I think. Catching 10 carp is great, but if you lose five others along the way then to me, that isn’t so great. The stiff links have provided me with an almost unrivalled hooked ratio of hooked and landed fish. This is important and I would much rather not hook a carp in the first place if I’m not going to land it. The stiff-link has ensured that I land almost every single carp that I hook and that is what we all want from a rig.

There are so many aspects of the stiff link that can affect the overall performance of the rig.

The hook is far better off featuring an out-turned eye than it is in-turned. It still surprises me how many anglers still use a hook with either a straight or an in-turned eye for chods and stiff links. There are plenty of variables available, built to suit the style of rig. Hooks like the Choddy are specifically designed for these rigs and it’s these that I favour above the rest.

A curve in the hook section has become a lot more popular in recent years and it’s easy to see why. You only have to tie a couple up and compare them against one another in order to realise how much of a difference a curve makes. The one with a curve, combined with a decent swivel, will always turn the hook towards the bottom lip far for freely than the it does with the conventional, straight hook section. The release of the Mouthtrap chod filament has certainly made things a lot easier where curvature and workability is concerned. I’m sure many of you will agree, manipulating the hook section has never been easier.

During the winter, I will use the fluorescent colours a lot more, combining them with the hinge rig to create the perfect one bite tactic. This has served me well during the winter for years now. Carp don’t show themselves too often at this time of year but when they do, a bright, highly attractive bait, attached to a stiff link can often boast your best chance of capitalising on the sign. The bait will always be present, holding the hook up out of harms way, ready for the carp to pick it up. On top of its uses during winter, it can of course be used to great effect during the warmer months too, when fished over beds of boilie.

I have always preferred to fish with this rig over a soft lakebed, there’s nothing to say that you can’t fish with it over a much harder, gravel bottom but it is best suited to the softer types of lake bed - most pop-up rigs are in fact. If I’m fishing a hard spot then I will normally opt for a bait fished flat on the deck.

It is because of my preference to use this rig over a soft lake bed that I like to use the Semi-stiff N-Trap for the boom section. The classic stiff link is tied with a much stiffer boom section but I tend not to use it like that anymore. I like to have a little movement an flexibility within the boom section, this allows the rig to settle nicely over uneven ground. The great thing about the Semi-stiff N-Trap is that the rig has the rigidity to kick the hook bait out and away from the lead, whilst be supple enough to present itself well over uneven ground.

I feel that the helicopter leader arrangement is the one for the job when using stiff links. When targeting softer areas of the lake, it pays to have a lead arrangement that suits the job and although a lead clip and inline will still be suffice, I much prefer to use helicopter rigs. The helicopter allows the lead to plug into the silt without pulling the hook link in too. Adjusting the height of the top bead on the leader enables me to adapt the leader to perfectly suit the spot I’m fishing.

Bait wise, I am an avid fan of cork ball pop-ups, generally a one that matches the feed I am introducing. However, with this said, the standard pop-ups of this day and age are far more buoyant than they once were. This enables me to use my straight-out-the-pot Mainline pop-ups too.

Once I have attached my hook bait to the rig with dental floss, I then add some putty to the swivel beneath the hook, which enables me to balance out the rig. I want the rig to sink nice and slowly, eventually resting on the bottom with the bait presented well above any debris. This combined with the helicopter rig secures perfect presentation.

This rig has served me well at all different times of year, whatever the situation, this rig can be adapted in order to suit. Give it a go and I’m sure you will have plenty of success too.